“Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol” at Taproot

If you like holiday presentations of Dickens’ “Christmas Carol, but have seen them so many times that you’re looking for a bit of a change, head over to Taproot Theatre. There, you’ll find Sherlock Holmes acting as unpleasantly as Scrooge. Although there’s no Bob Cratchit, Dr. Watson is a good stand-in, and a scary spirit of Christmas Yet To Come convinces the errant Holmes that he’d better change his ways.

There are a few surprises contained within John Longenbaugh’s script, and the concept of layering Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on top of Charles Dickens is an interesting one. But this is a little too derivative for my taste.

That said, you should know this has played in previous years at Taproot and been an enormous success. Attribute that to the production values achieved by Director Scott Nolte. Sarah Burch Gordon’s costumes, Mark Lund’s set and sound, and Brian Engel’s lighting superbly establish the Victorian mood.

There’s good acting too. Terry Edward Moore creates a vile Holmes who does indeed undergo a dramatic yet believable transformation. Stephen Grenley’s affable Watson is a lovable bear, and all the supporting characters do well. Pam Nolte is just right as Holmes’ landlady, Mrs. Watson. Unfortunately, when she plays the Spirit of Christmas Past and waves her arms about, she resembles seaweed rippling in tidal waters.

It’s a new take on an old standard. And it, too, in the spirit of the season, ends with a message of hope, charity, and forgiveness.

Through Dec. 29, at Taproot Theatre, 204 N. 85th St., Seattle, (206 781-9705 or www.taproottheatre.org).

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